Authorities do not yet know how many containers were burned aboard a cargo ship in a still burning fire off the coast of Victoria, a Canadian Coast Guard spokesman said on Sunday.
The flames initially spread to 10 containers after another 40 fell overboard in rough waters on Friday, but JJ Brickett said the fire on the MV Zim Kingston was mostly under control Sunday afternoon.
“Looking at the actual footage, it’s a lot,” Brickett said at a virtual press conference. “The containers basically burned to their shells and then collapsed on top of each other.”
Provincial and federal officials are working with all First Nations on Vancouver Island’s west coast as they investigate the fire aboard the ship, he said.
Brickett said the location of some of the containers that landed in the ocean is being monitored by helicopters, but efforts to recover them cannot begin until after a storm breakout is forecast to worsen through Monday.
Efforts to read the labels on dropped containers to try to identify their contents have been unsuccessful and officials are trying to account for all of them, Brickett said.
“One of the objectives of the response is 100 responsibility for all these containers: where are they, what happened to them, what was in them. And to the extent that we can, how can we get them back.”
The MV Zim Kingston had experienced some damage as it approached Vancouver and the crew were in contact with the Canadian Coast Guard and Transport Canada, he said, adding that the ship was assessed off the Strait of Juan de Fuca, where it was anchored for repairs and to await a new contact with the latter agency.
He said Transport Canada inspectors will be on board the ship after the “emergency phase” of ensuring the safety of the ship and those still on it, and that its Greece-based owner is providing assistance.
Early Sunday, the coast guard said in a tweet that the hull of the MV Zim Kingston had been cooled overnight by a tugboat that doused it with water. Applying cold water directly to the burning containers was not an option because two of them contained 52,000 kilograms of a hazardous material identified as potassium amylxanthate.
He said the fire aboard the ship some five miles off the Victoria coast posed a significant risk to sailors, but not to people on shore.
#Fire on #CargoShip in #BC under control, but it is not known how many containers were burned.
The coast guard said it received news Saturday morning of a fire in 10 damaged containers aboard the ship, which was docked in Constance Bank, BC.
He noted that the ship itself was not on fire, but said in a tweet that an emergency zone had doubled to two nautical miles around the Zim Kingston.
The Joint Rescue and Coordination Center in Victoria said 16 crew members were safely removed from the ship, while five others, including the captain, remained on board at their request.
Canadian Coast Guard spokeswoman Michelle Imbeau said an incident command post run by the agency on behalf of the federal and British Columbia governments, as well as First Nations representatives, was coordinating a multi-agency response to the fire.
He said the command post was also working with the US Coast Guard to monitor the 40 containers that fell overboard the Zim Kingston in rough seas on Friday and were floating about 12 nautical miles off the west coast of the United States. Vancouver Island, near Bamfield, BC.
The coast guard said a Vancouver hazmat crew was mobilizing and that the owner of the Zim Kingston had contracted with the U.S.-based Resolve Marine Group for salvage operations, including firefighting and salvage. The containers.
Resolve Marine had mobilized two vessels that were expected to be at the scene on Sunday.
Peter Lahay, national coordinator for the International Federation of Transport Workers, said he contacted Transport Canada on Friday and was told that no crew member was injured and that inspectors would board the ship when it arrived in Vancouver.
“In my opinion, after such an extraordinary container spill, maritime safety inspectors should have been on board that ship upon arrival. If they had, we might have known about the fire, or potential fire, sooner. “, said.
However, Lahay said he believes the federal agency is underfunded and understaffed and, as a result, very few inspections are conducted.
“Canada needs to do a better job of being resilient and better able to respond to these things. We wasted a day (Saturday) trying to figure out what to do to mitigate this fire, and we should have been more prepared.” he said.
The union has contacted crew members brought ashore to Victoria to stay at local hotels to see if they need help, Lahay said.
“They came ashore without clothes and we will assess what we should do to help this crew,” he said of the “maritime disaster.”
This Canadian Press report was first published on October 24, 2021.
– By Camille Bains in Vancouver, with files from Michael Tutton in Halifax